Sir David Attenborough.
Sir David Attenborough. Contributed by ABC TV publicity website

Sir David documentary featuring Lady Elliot boosts visitors

THE beauty and wonder of Lady Elliot Island, especially its population of manta rays, will be broadcast into homes across the country on Sunday.

Sir David Attenborough's three-part Great Barrier Reef documentary references Lady Elliot in the second episode, which will air on the ABC at 7.40pm.

Screenings already in Great Britain, Canada and New Zealand have seen a three-fold increase in inquires, astounding Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort managing director Peter Gash.

Mr Gash flew to London to meet Sir David for the initial preview screening in December and said the documentary had been a real boost for the whole Great Barrier Reef.

With Australians about to get their glimpse of Lady Elliot, he's a little nervous and excited to know inquires could go through the roof.

Lady Elliot Island Photo: contributed
Lady Elliot Island Photo: contributed contributed

"Certainly from our perspective we've seen enormous increase in inquires and subsequent follow up bookings. It's been just tremendous," he said.

"About 50% of our bookings are international and it's a mix from all countries. Our internationals normally inquire at night because of the different times zones so a busy night the staff will come in and we might have 20 or 25 email inquires in the morning.

"One morning they came in and there was 90 and we were like 'whoa, what happened?' It was all related to the screening in the UK. We've had about 90 to 100 every night and it hasn't rally backed off - we're still getting about 60 a night."

"We're a bit nervous about Monday because it will be seen by locals and it's not so far to come."

Mr Gash has been in the tourism industry for more than 35 years and said he's never seen a specific program have such an effect.

"I think it's because the general public really care about the planet. They want to make a difference, they know that's what's driven Sir David for 60 years," he said.

"He (Sir David) fell in love with the reef 60 years. He just recognised it importance and complexity of it."

Mr Gash said what's even more remarkable was that Lady Elliot was not originally written into the script for the program but when Sir David's team were unable to get the footage they wanted at other locations Lady Elliot produced the goods and ended up with a staring role.

"After some frustrating days they couldn't get the vision and I got a call at 12.30am in the morning from the executive producer," he said.

"They said can you get me this vision and I said 'yes'."

From there Mr Gash assisted the crew even further in obtaining what they required but, as the island was not in the original script, was told there would be no credit in the documentary.

But that all changed in production and Mr Gash got the surprise of a lifetime when he was informed just moments before watching the preview screening in London that Lady Elliot had impressed enough to be referenced in the stunning series.

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